BNP ropes in 17 allies
The BNP-led four-party alliance yesterday expanded to an "18-party alliance" aimed at strengthening the movement for restoration of the caretaker government system and formation of a "patriotic government" to fulfil people's aspirations.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia announced this at a press conference at Diploma Engineers' Institution in the capital.
Reading out a declaration paper on the 18-party alliance, Khaleda said expansion of the four-party combine was a necessity in view of demands from "all parties and people from all walks of life to be united to compel the present government to hand over power to a non-party caretaker government. It was a demand of time."
She went on, "Our goal is to build a tougher movement for the formation of a patriotic government to meet the challenge of time and fulfil the aspirations of people."
The leader of the opposition in parliament urged all to form committees across the country to strengthen the anti-government movement.
The new components of the 18-party combine include Liberal Democratic Party, Kalyan Party, Jatiya Gana tantrik Party (Jagpa), National People's Party (NPP) and Bangladesh NAP, and seven other parties not registered with the Election Commission -- Bangladesh Labour Party, National Democratic Party (NDP), Muslim League, Islamic Party, National Awami Party (NAP-Bhasani), Democratic League and People's League.
Among the leaders of these parties, only LDP Chairman Oli Ahmad won the last parliamentary polls.
Most of the new components of the expanded alliance are known as name-only parties.
The four-party alliance was formed in 1999 to intensify the movement against the then Awami League-led government. It comprised BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) and Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP).
Later, IOJ split into three factions -- IOJ (Aminee), Khelafat Majlish and Jomiyote Ulamaye Islam-- and all of these were active in the four-party combine.
Most of the alliance partners of BNP keep their activities limited to forming human chains and holding discussion meetings.
Asked how these small parties will help strengthen the movement against the government, Khaleda said larger number of parties means "more strength and more people with us". And this was proved during the recent grand rally of the BNP-led alliance and that of the ruling Awami League in the capital.
She said the present government has lost legitimacy to run the country. So, It has to amend the constitution to hand over power to a non-party caretaker government, and it is the only peaceful and constitutional way to protect democracy and build the country at present and in future.
Asked if the expanded coalition is an election alliance or a political alliance, the BNP chairperson said it is an alliance for movement to dislodge the government
Top leaders of new components of the alliance signed the declaration on it and they were present at the dais during the announcement.
Leaders of BNP and its alliance partners and several thousand workers were present at the programme.
At the March 12 rally in the capital, Khaleda announced that the four-party combine would be expanded with the inclusion of like-minded parties.